Fidel “Eddie” Valdez Ramos (born March 18, 1928), popularly known as FVR, was the 12th President of the Philippines from 1992 to 1998. During his six years in office, Ramos was widely credited and admired by many for revitalizing and renewing international confidence in the Philippine economy. Prior to his election as president, Ramos served in the Cabinet of President Corazon Aquino first as chief-of-staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and, later on, as Secretary of National Defense from 1986 to 1991. During the historic 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution, Ramos upon the invitation of then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile, was hailed as a hero even though he was not part of the plan by many Filipinos for his decision to break away from the administration of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos and pledge allegiance and loyalty to the newly-established revolutionary government of President Aquino, following the downfall of Marcos from power in February 1986. Previously, he was the AFP vice chief-of-staff, chief of PC/INP under President Marcos.
Under Ramos, the Philippines experienced a period of political stability and rapid economic growth and expansion, as a result of his policies and programs designed to foster national reconciliation and unity. Ramos was able to secure major peace agreements with Muslim separatists, communist insurgents and military rebels, which renewed investor confidence in the Philippine economy. Ramos also aggressively pushed for the deregulation of the nation’s major industries and the privatization of bad government assets. As a result of his hands-on approach to the economy, the Philippines was dubbed by various international magazines and observers as Asia’s Next Economic Tiger.
However, the momentum in the economic gains made under the Ramos Administration was briefly interrupted during the onset of the 1997Asian Financial Crisis. Nevertheless, during the last year of the term, the economy managed to make a rebound since it was not severely hit by the crisis as compared to other Asian economies. He is the only Filipino to receive an honorary British Knighthood from the United Kingdom, the GCMG or the Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George. This was bestowed to him by Queen Elizabeth II in 1995 for services to politics and government. To date, Ramos is the first and only non-Catholic President of the Philippines. He belongs to the Protestant United Church of Christ in the Philippines. * Early life and education
Fidel Ramos was born on March 18, 1928 in Lingayen, Pangasinan. His father, Narciso Ramos (1900–1986), was a lawyer, journalist and 5-term legislator of the House of Representatives, who eventually rose to the position of Secretary of Foreign Affairs. As such, Narciso Ramos was the Philippine signatory to the ASEAN declaration forged in Bangkok in 1967 and was one of the founding fathers of the Liberal Party. His mother, Angela Valdez-Ramos (1905–1977), was an educator, woman suffragette and daughter of the respected Valdez clan of Batac,Ilocos Norte making him a second degree cousin to Ferdinand Marcos. Ramos received secondary education at the Centro Escolar University in Manila. After he went to America, he was educated at the United States Military Academy and University of Illinois, where he earned a master’s degree in civil engineering. He also holds a master’s degree in National Security Administration from the National Defense College of the Philippines and a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) from the Ateneo de Manila University. * Early Military career
Ramos went to the United States Military Academy at West Point, and he graduated in 1950. Ramos, along with the Philippines’ 20th Battalion Combat Team and his fellow West Point graduates of the 1950s, fought in the Korean War. Ramos was one of the heroes of theBattle of Hill Eerie, where he led his platoon to sabotage the enemy in Hill Eerie. He was also present in the Vietnam War as a non-combat civil military engineer and commanding officer of the Philippine Civil Action Group (PHILCAG). It is during this assignment where he forged his life-long friendship with his junior officer Maj. Jose T. Almonte, who went on to become his National Security Advisor throughout during his administration from 1992–1998. Ramos has received several military awards including the Philippine Legion of Honor, the Distinguished Conduct Star, Philippine Military Merit Medal, the United States Legion of Merit, the French Legion of Honor and the U.S. Military Academy Distinguished Graduate Award.
Headed the Philippine Constabulary and Integrated National Police on 1972 when then President Ferdinand Marcos, who was elected on 1965 imposed martial law to stay in power and to establish a dictatorship in the country, Ramos, in his capacity, was responsible for the arrest of political personalities, media and activists etc., but he made efforts in order for them to be well-treated while in detention, despite abuses on some of them by few of his subordinates. Nine years later, martial law would be lifted on 1981 but Ramos’ second cousin still retains strong absolute powers in governing the Philippines. Due to his accomplishments, Ramos became one of the candidates to become the new chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippineson 1981, to replace the retiring General Romeo Espino. However, Marcos bypassed him and instead, appointed his trusted military officer and former driver, General Fabian Ver into the top military post. Instead, Ramos was named to be the vice-chief of staff of the AFP on 1982, thus he became the military’s second most powerful official after Ver.
When Ver was implicated in the assassination of Former Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. who is also known as Ninoy on 1983, Ramos became the acting AFP chief of staff for a short time only because on 1985, Ver was reinstated after he was acquitted by the court on the charges against him with regards to the assasination of the Marcos regime’s chief political enemy and renowned opposition leader. On February 22, 1986, he alongside then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile protested the alleged fraud committed by Marcos in the country’s snap presidential elections and therefore, withdrew their support from him and staged a non-violent People Power Revolution to overthrow him. The duo also declared their support to Corazon Aquino, the wife of the late Ninoy and Marcos’ main election rival. On February 25, the revolution reached its peak and conclusion when Marcos, along with his family, friends and some supporters fled the country into exile in the state of Hawaii on the United States, thus ending the 20-year Marcos military dictatorship and when Aquino took her oath as the new but first woman president of the Philippines. * 1992 Presidential Election
In December 1991, Ramos declared his candidacy for President. He however, lost the nomination of the dominant party Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) to House Speaker Ramon Mitra, Jr. Days later, he bolted and did not respect LDP and cried foul and founded the Partido Lakas Tao (People Power Party), inviting Cebu Governor Emilio Mario Osmeña as his Vice President. The party formed a coalition with the National Union of Christian Democrats (NUCD) of Senator Raul Manglapus and the United Muslim Democrats of the Philippines (UMDP) of Ambassador Sanchez Ali. Ramos and Osmeña, together with Congressman (later House Speaker) Jose de Venecia, campaigned for economic reforms and improved national security and unity. He won the seven-way race on May 11, 1992, narrowly defeating populist Agrarian Reform Secretary Miriam Defensor Santiago. Despite winning, he garnered only 23.58% of the vote, the lowest plurality in the country’s history. The election results were marred by allegations of fraud, though cheating on a large scale has not been proven. However, his running mate, Governor Osmeña, lost to Senator Joseph Estradaas Vice President. * Clark Centennial Expo Scandal
Supposedly, one of his notable contributions to the Philippines was the revival of nationalistic spirit by embarking on a massive promotion campaign for the centennial of Philippine Independence celebrated on June 12, 1998. However, charges of alleged massive corruption or misuse of funds blemished the resulting programs and various projects, one of which was the Centennial Expo and Amphitheater at the former Clark Air Base in Angeles City, Pampanga, supposedly Ramos’ pet project. The commemorative projects, particularly those undertaken at the former Clark Air Base, were hounded by illegal electioneering and corruption controversies even years after the Centennial celebrations.
A special report by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) showed how the projects relating to the Expo site not only revealed the extravagance and inefficiency of the administration, but also served as convenient vehicle to effect election fund-raising for the LAKAS political party of Ramos at the expense of the tax-paying Filipinos and in violation of the Election Code. The Centennial Expo Pilipino project, intended to be the centerpiece for the celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the country’s independence from Spain, also earned extensive criticisms for being an expensive white elephant project that disadvantaged the government at the cost of P9 billion, or 1.7 percent of the country’s 1998 national budget. Six ranking Ramos cabinet members and officials, headed by Chairman Salvador Laurel (former Vice-President) of the Centennial Commission were cleared by the Ombudsman and Sandigan Bayan (People’s Court). Ramos appeared before a Congressional Committee in October 1998 to help exonerate said officials of any wrong-doing. * PEA-Amari Scandal
President Fidel Ramos was accused of corruption in the PEA-Amari deal. The controversial deal involved the acquisition of 158 hectares of reclaimed land on Manila Bay that was to be converted into so-called Freedom Islands. The deal was forged in April 1995 as part of the Ramos administration’s Manila Bay Master Development Plan (MBMDP). The PEA-Amari deal – in addition to other projects in Manila Bay – displaced over 3,000 fishing and coastal families in Manila Bay just to give way to what fisherfolk activists from Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) described as “an immoral, illegal and grossly unconstitutional state venture”. The Ramos administration was accused of selling out the government’s interests by favoring Amari Coastal Bay Resources and Filinvest Development—topping off a growing list of other corporate beneficiaries—over higher bidders in various lucrative real estate development schemes.
Data obtained from Public Estate Authority (PEA) revealed that the property was sold to Amari for P1.9 billion or P 1,200 pesos per square meter although the value of properties in adjacent areas were pegged at P90,000 per square meter. The Senate in its inquiry in 1998 found a paper trail representing commissions paid to certain PEA officials amounting to P1.7 billion. Ramos denied accusations that the PEA-Amari deal was clinched to benefit members of the ruling Lakas-NUCD as alleged by opposition groups. However, ex- solicitor general Franciso Chavez filed a petition to nullify the PEA-Amari deal because the government stood to lose billions of pesos in the sale of reclaimed lands to Amari. On April 25, 1995, PEA entered into a joint venture with Amari to develop Freedom Islands and on June 8 of the same year, Ramos okayed deal. On November 29, 1996, then-Senate President Ernesto Maceda delivered a privilege speech assailing the deal as the “grandmother of all scams”.